Noted architecture and design journalist and critic Frances Anderton, Hon. AIA/LA, will give SAH/SCC a virtual tour through Los Angeles based on her brand-new book, Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles (Angel City Press, 2022). For more than a century, Los Angeles has been a laboratory for exceptional experiments in multifamily housing—from the bungalow court to courtyard apartments to lofts and co-living spaces with rooftop gardens—all centered on shared outdoor space that enhances the spirit of community.
Starting with the bungalow courts and apartment-hotels of the 1910s, Anderton’s book guides readers through the development of classic garden apartments to contemporary mid-rise “urban villages,” co-living, and the return of low-rise backyard complexes. She finds early gems by Arthur and Nina Zwebell, R.M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and Ralph Vaughn, among others. Those traditions are carried on today by such firms as Michael W. Folonis Architects (pictured on the book cover), Koning Eizenberg, Brooks + Scarpa, and Lorcan O’Herlihy.
During the 20th and 21st centuries, the multifamily housing ideas generated in L.A. have been widely influential across the US. As housing becomes a national focus, L.A.’s creative and practical solutions are more important than ever. Common Ground shows that well-designed connected dwellings work as good architecture and good social systems, proof positive that multifamily housing can be aspirational, not second in status or style to a single-family home.
Always interested in how buildings affect people, Anderton talks to residents of multifamily buildings, who share their stories, and also turns to her own experience living in a midcentury apartment complex designed by Frank Gehry. “I was surprised to find how many people felt like I did—happy and safe in their connected dwelling,” notes Anderton. “Yet also feeling a sense of not being fully realized Angelenos, because we’ve become so inculcated with the idea that life in our own single-family house is the fullest American experience.”
Authors on Architecture: Anderton on Housing—Sunday, November 6, 2022; 1-2:30 PM PST; $5; go to www.sahscc.org and pay via PayPal or mail in order form with check; Zoom connection information sent upon registration.